On January 23,1909, after having finished some repair work on the Rock Island bridge east of town, the bridge gang gave the ends of the timber to Section Foreman J.D. Hendrickson. He, in company with his son, Charles, and two other young men by the name of Radford, loaded the timber. They headed to town with the timber.


On January 23,1909, after having finished some repair work on the Rock Island bridge east of town, the bridge gang gave the ends of the timber to Section Foreman J.D. Hendrickson. He, in company with his son, Charles, and two other young men by the name of Radford, loaded the timber. They headed to town with the timber.

They had no more than got started when they were accosted by two men, who demanded to know where they were taking the load and by what authority. Hendrickson replied that the bridge foreman gave it to him and he was taking them to his home.

One of the two men, who were C.B. Sailing and E.O. Ricknart, sprang forward and struck the elder Hendrickson over the head with a rake handle. The younger Hendrickson sprang from the wagon and proceeded to do a neat and thorough job of cleaning the aggressors “plow.” Afterward, they climbed back on the wagon and resumed the journey to town.

After having gone about a mile, they came to the home of a relative. They stopped and procured a lantern. Coming back out, they continued their journey and were again accosted by Ricknart and Sailing, who were armed this time. They were commanded to get off the wagon, which they did, but in no submissive mood. A fight ensued in which Sailing was shot in the leg accidently by his partner. The fight occurred on south Osage, right at the city limits.

After again putting Ricknart and Sailing to rout, Hendrickson and his party preceded to town. They were however, suffering with some injuries. They were beaten about the head and the elder Hendrickson had a skull fracture. They were given treatment in town and then sent home. Elder Hendrickson was in critical condition.

None of the parties were in condition to be locked up at the time. Hendrickson and his party were allowed to go home on their own recognizance.

Ricknart and Sailing had suits pending in court against the railroad company for damage done to their crops by the recent floods and they felt they had the right to the timbers for compensation of their troubles.

Although much damage was done on both sides, there were no charges against either party.


Promptly at 6 A.M., on February 9, 1909, the election boxes throughout Pottawatomie County opened. The citizens of the county started to cast their ballots in the matter of choosing a permanent site for the county seat. The vote was heavy, and the interest was at fever pitch. For several weeks, both sides had campaigned vigorously and bitterly throughout the county.

By the next day, with the results in, it showed that Shawnee was the clear winner. To move the county seat, a majority of 60% had to be achieved.

When the tally was completed, Shawnee received 5,027 votes, while Tecumseh received 2,997. The margin was 62.5%, more than what was required. It appeared that it was an easy victory for Shawnee, despite its great disadvantage in the southern part of the county.

The citizens and leaders of Shawnee were excited and encouraged that all the county offices would move to its city as soon as possible. All appeared to be wonderful for the city, but things would change in the future.


Oklahoma Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, M.J. Kane, issued a temporary injunction, restraining the city of Shawnee, County officials, Governor Charles Haskell, and others, from removing the county seat, or county records from Tecumseh to Shawnee on February 19. Tecumseh filed with the court a lengthy argument making repeated charges of fraud, illegal voting, coercion of the employees of corporations, and charging the city of Shawnee with failure to comply with the election law, and other things.

Tecumseh alleged that the vote received by Shawnee was short of receiving the necessary majority. The court decided to give the case a hearing at the first session in March. In the meantime, Governor Haskell would canvass the returns, but no proclamation was forthcoming during the life of the injunction.

Among the charges preferred against Shawnee was one setting forth that the election notices sent to several papers by the Governor were not published by the Tecumseh Democrat, and that no notice was posted there. This was required by law in the event of the failure of any paper refusing to publish the proclamation.

The coercion charge was backed by an affidavit from Gus Ables, at one time an employee of the Shawnee Planing Mill Company. Ables was released from employment because of a demand he made on the company for increased wages. He was later taken back into their employ and again let out for the same reason. He immediately went to the Tecumseh committee and made affidavit that he was released because of his refusal to vote for Shawnee.

Tecumseh further alleged that the necessary vote Shawnee would have had to get in the election was 5,336, and claimed that they received only 4,948 legally cast ballots. Also, that the petitions for an election was not filed in accordance with the law. That six months did not elapse between the filing of the petitions and the election.

Irregularities were also charged in the petition in precinct one, from the township of Bales. The claim was that the voters were not sworn in that precinct and that the election commissioner did not attach his signature to the returns. Also, the election officers did not submit to the proper oath of office.

Precinct two in the Davis township was also cited. It claimed that the Tecumseh watcher was not allowed to witness the counting of the returns. Precinct three in the same township was claimed to be the scene of further irregularities. The charge being made that 25 voters failed to take oath to the affidavit of eligibility.

A week later, Governor Haskell issued a proclamation declaring Shawnee to be the winner. He ordered all records to be moved to Shawnee. The proclamation also contained a clause directing the county commissioners to procure suitable quarters for the courthouse in Shawnee.

In giving the vote received to each candidate, the proclamation stated that the necessary constitutional majority was received by Shawnee. The effects were temporarily held up by the restraining order, but clearly showed that the Governor believed that the county seat should move.

Later stories will show that the move did not work out. The courts eventually blocked the move for many of the reasons mentioned above. It would be more than 20 years before the subject came up again.

(These stories and hundreds more will appear in the comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee, coming in 2019.)